Western screech owl
Mon . 18 Aug 2018

Western screech owl

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Otus kennicottii

The western screech owl Megascops kennicottii is a small owl native to North and Central America, closely related to the European scops owl and the Description

Length averages 22 cm 87 in, wingspan 55 cm 22 in, and weight 143 g 50 oz Weight ranges from 88 to 220 g 31 to 78 oz2 Females are larger than males and northern populations are notably larger than southern populations3 Adults are larger than whiskered screech owls, with larger feet and a more streaked plumage pattern

There are several morphs: brown Pacific, grey Pacific, Great Plains, Mojave, and Mexican All have either brown or dark gray plumage with streaking on the underparts There is no red morph

They have a round head with ear tufts, yellow eyes, and a yellowish bill Their appearance is quite similar to whiskered and eastern screech owls, so it is best to identify them by their calls They were previously considered to be the same species as the eastern screech owl4


  • 1 Call
  • 2 Range and habitat
  • 3 Breeding
  • 4 Prey
  • 5 Subspecies
  • 6 Gallery
  • 7 Notes
  • 8 References


The primary call is an accelerating series of short whistles at an increasing tempo or a short then long trill falling slightly at end Other calls: barking and chuckling, similar to the eastern screech owl4 They also make a high pitched screech

Range and habitatedit

The western screech owl is native to Canada, United States, Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua1 Its habitat includes temperate forests, subtropical and tropical montane forests, shrubland, desert, rural fields, and even suburban parks and gardens1


They are permanent residents of the northwest North and Central America, breeding in open woods, or mixed woods at forest edges They often use holes in tree cavities or cactus that were opened by woodpeckers


These birds wait on perches to swoop down on unsuspecting prey; they may also catch insects in flight They are active at dawn, night, or near dusk, using their excellent hearing and night vision to locate prey Their diet consists mainly of small mammals such as mice or rats, birds, and large insects; however they are opportunistic predators, even taking small trout at night Motion-activated cameras have photographed the birds eagerly scavenging a road-kill opossum They have also been known to hunt Mallard ducks and cottontail rabbits, occasionally Hatching of their young, usually four to five, is synchronized with the spring migration of birds; after migrants pass through screech-owls take fledglings of local birds


There are 9 recognized subspecies:5

  • Megascops kennicottii aikeni Brewster, 1891
  • Megascops kennicottii bendirei Brewster, 1882
  • Megascops kennicottii cardonensis Huey, 1926
  • Megascops kennicottii kennicottii Elliot, 1867
  • Megascops kennicottii macfarlanei Brewster, 1891
  • Megascops kennicottii suttoni R T Moore, 1941
  • Megascops kennicottii vinaceus Brewster, 1888
  • Megascops kennicottii xantusi Brewster, 1902
  • Megascops kennicottii yumanensis A H Miller & L Miller, 1951



  1. ^ a b c BirdLife International 2012 "Megascops kennicottii" IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Version 20132 International Union for Conservation of Nature Retrieved 26 November 2013 
  2. ^ CRC Handbook of Avian Body Masses by John B Dunning Jr Editor CRC Press 1992, ISBN 978-0-8493-4258-5
  3. ^ 1 2011
  4. ^ a b The Sibley Guide to Birds, by David Allen Sibley, ISBN 0-679-45122-6
  5. ^ "Megascops kennicottii" Integrated Taxonomic Information System Retrieved 4 April 2011 


  • National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North – America ISBN 0-7922-6877-6
  • Handbook of the Birds of the World Vol 5, J del Hoyo, editor ISBN 84-87334-25-3

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